• Return and Earn is a successful container deposit scheme already in use in NSW. (Image by Robert Myers, licenced under CC BY-SA 3.0)
    Return and Earn is a successful container deposit scheme already in use in NSW. (Image by Robert Myers, licenced under CC BY-SA 3.0)

New Zealand has taken the first steps towards implementing a container return scheme (CRS) in a move that has been applauded by Coca-Cola Amatil.

Eugenie Sage, associate minister for the environment, announced that the NZ government was beginning the investigation and design stage of a new CRS, which she said would blend international best practice with consideration of the country’s own needs.

“A container return scheme would change the way New Zealanders see beverage containers. They would again become something of value, and we would see increased recycling and new opportunities for refilling.  When consumers recycle their drink bottles, they would get a deposit back, which incentivises higher recycling rates,” she said.

According to Sage, New Zealand consumes around two billion glass, plastic, aluminium, paperboard, and other single use drink containers every year, and too many currently end up in litter or landfill.

“Overseas experience shows a refundable deposit puts the value back into recycling and results in a big increase in returned containers. A scheme could lift recovery and recycling rates for numbers of beverage containers in New Zealand from around 45 percent – 58 percent to 80 percent, or more,” she said.

Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA) NZ has welcomed the announcement, adding that the company has gained significant experience running container return schemes in Australia over the last 40 years.

Chris Litchfield, managing director of CCA NZ and Fiji, said the company is positioned to help by using its expertise to ensure the best outcome for all stakeholders, including government, Iwi (Māori nations), industry, and community.

“We’re pro-collection and believe that a collaborative, system approach is a positive step to close the loop on valuable plastics in New Zealand for a circular economy. We support a combined effort from Government, Iwi, industry and community to achieve this and we are fully committed to doing our part to ensure best practice,” said Litchfield.

The CRS project will design a comprehensive proposal to be presented to the NZ government by August of next year.

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